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Friday, December 31, 2010

Ask. Then Act.

My youngest daughter seems to be a natural born leader.  She's fearless and loves the challenge of just about anything.  She loves to be in front and be the 'line leader' in whatever situation she is in.  Sometimes, I think she forgets how old she is as the older kids willingly follow behind her.  It's really a wonderful thing to watch such a go-getter personality.

It can be difficult to parent, however.  She'll have an idea and implement it without fully knowing what she's doing or the possible outcome of her actions.  She jumps.  Then thinks.  Acts.  Then asks.  She'll enthusiastically take a path without asking if it even leads anywhere.

As I look into the new year ahead, it's only natural that I begin making yearly goals and plans for the future.  I almost hurt my brain last night twisting numbers in my head about our finances.  I'm making to-do lists for around the house and honey-do lists for my husband.  I have health goals.  Career goals.  Plans for the kids and plans for the dog, even! 

But, much like my daughter, in my enthusiasm to race forward, I'm having a tendency to forget to seek out Wisdom first.  There is really only One who knows the future and knows what is best for my family and me.  Best I inquire of Him before laying my plans.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just A Coincidence?

When I was kid, I used to read books that presented alternate endings to its story.  When you read to a certain point in the book, it gave you the chance to choose endings 1, 2 or 3.  What I thought was neat about this concept was that it was usually only a minor event or character's decision that swayed the entire outcome and made the ending different. 

In life, I have a few stories of my own that could have had different endings.  I recall a trip back from my in-laws' house.  I was anxious to get on the road to start our 5 hour trip.  My husband did not share my enthusiasm.  Though, I tapped my foot and made nagging comments, he didn't feel comfortable leaving until another 45 minutes later.  We were a good portion into our journey when we suddenly came to a stand still in traffic.  We sat for a long time and finally received word that the bridge ahead was closed and they weren't letting anyone into the town ahead of us.  We turned on the radio seeking more information.  Apparently, a 62 mile long track Supertwister ripped through town. 

The next day, my husband read a news report online.  The report was thorough and gave the time that the tornado hit and the exact intersection it had crossed.  We did the math in our heads and our jaws dropped.  If we left when I had insisted, we would have chosen ending 1 and unknowingly crossed paths with destruction.  But, we amazingly avoided the disaster altogether via ending 2. 

I can't help but be amazed by the timing and the 'what ifs' of this story.  Was it all just coincidental timing that my husband delayed our departure?  I just can't ignore the obvious protection of Someone that sees all and knows all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vowels & Consonants

Words are amazing.  Through books, they have the ability to take us places we could never go in real life.  They can make us laugh.  They can make us cry.  They can inform us.  They can help us get to know each other.  They can help us express ourselves.  They are wonderful.  They are powerful.

And, like any powerful tool, if wrongly used, words can be harmful.  When mishandled, they can be down right destructive.  They can bring down a person's career.  Ruin a reputation.  Destroy relationships.  They can cause deep wounds that take a lifetime to heal.  They can damage a person's self confidence, self image.  They can alter lives, families, communities, governments. 

I wish I could sit here and tell you that I am always careful with these powerful, life-changing elements in my hands.  I'm just not.  Some days, I'm like the little kid running around with scissors in her hands, being completely ignorant to the harm I could cause.  Other times, I don't effectively use them to be the balm for someone's discouragement.  And, then sometimes, I fumble trying to find the right one when really I should use none at all. 

God, help me as I start this new day with a fresh batch of vowels and consonants.  They are a sword on my lips.
 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cyst

Several years ago, I had a cyst.  It was deep inside my lower back.  It was a painfully intense experience for me when it surfaced.  I couldn't walk.  I couldn't sit.  I couldn't do anything.  And, though, I tried to avoid it, it got to a point where I knew I needed to get help.  Problem was, it was in such an embarrassing place on my body, it seemed better to live with the pain than to allow myself to be vulnerable and be examined -- receiving the aid I so desperately needed.

It took pure desperation and running out of all options to get myself to a specialist.  Apparently, I was not the only one that procrastinated in receiving help.  When he took a look at me, the first words out of his mouth were, "Why do people take so long to take care of this?" 

Little did I know that this kind of cyst could only truly be taken care of through out-patient surgery.  He had to go deep, deep inside to get to the root of the cyst and make sure all the junk got pulled out.

Though, I hated having that experience, it has become a picture to me of what's going on inside my heart.  My Doctor needs to go deep, deep inside to the origin of some issues in my life.  But, it's requiring my willingness to be vulnerable and to open up to let Him in.  I am thankful, though, that He is not here to push Himself on me.  He is patient with me.  He knows that the process of opening up can be difficult.  And, though He has the ability to help me, He waits for my nod before He touches me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Daymares

Man, I hate nightmares.  Especially, the kind that seem extremely real.  I feel so helpless as I'm carried along by the story.  I feel powerless to change the plot.  I'm at the mercy of my own imagination.  And, though, it's not reality, I feel the emotions of it as if it was.  It's always such a relief when I wake-up.  Reason reminds my heart what the truth is.  And, the truth brings peace.

What I hate more, though, are what I guess I can call 'day nightmares' (daymares)-- what most call FEAR.  Fear can be powerful over our minds much like a nightmare.  It tells us things that aren't real.  Its convincing paralyzes us.  Its lies fool us to think that what is not real is reality.  It forms a fog over us.  A false truth.  We live our lives at the mercy of its dictatorship.  We are held captive by its imaginations.

But, much like a nightmare, we have the opportunity to wake-up and be set free from our fear.  We can hear Freedom calling to us in our sleep.

 "Wake-up." it gently speaks to us. 

It nudges us and speaks louder.  "You're having a nightmare.  Wake-up!"

It can not ignore our restlessness as it watches us suffer in our fear.  It's compelled by its Love for us.  It just can't turn a blind eye and walk away.  It won't give up until we wake-up.

And, what a relief when we do.  Truth enters.  We are able to see clearly now.  And, the Truth brings Peace.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

More In Storage!

Christmas morning is always so wonderful -- especially when you have children.  My husband and I set up the gifts the night before, and it's a sparkling Kodak moment when they first see the loot laid out in the living room.  Squeals of pure joy as they practically do a belly flop into the pile of boxes, ribbons and bows.  It's madness as the wrapping paper braces itself and the task of matching name tags to owners begins.

This year did not fail to bring such bliss.  No sugar-rush could match its energy.  And, when we came to the end of the gifts, and there seemed to be nothing left to open, we looked around and sighed a wonderful deep breath.  What a fun time. 

And, then it struck me. 

Where was that certain gift I had bought one of my daughters?  I did a scan of the room.  Nothing.  And, then I realized.  It was in the attic!  My husband and I did some early wrapping this year and we tucked them safely away in storage.  Just when we thought the gifts had depleted -- we realized there was MORE!  Oh my gosh! 

We ran upstairs and brought down 3 huge bags of wrapped gifts.  And, it was Christmas -- AGAIN!  And, so began another round of joy and madness.  The girls could not believe it.  TWO Christmases this year?  Such abundance.  Such a picture of overflowing goodness!

It made me think of how our Father gives gifts.  Abundant.  Overflowing.  Pressed down, shaken together and running over.  He doesn't stop filling our cup at its brim.  He allows it to spill over and splash everywhere. 

He gives us Christmas.  And, when we think we've received it all, He brings down MORE from His Storage!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rebuild!

It's always so heartbreaking to see a house or business that suffered a severe fire.  Maybe a favorite pizza shop.  Maybe a house you see on your commute every morning. 

It's a profound visual of what loss and devastation look like.  Every inch felt its wrath.  Charred walls.  Water damaged floors.  Remnants of what was once beautiful and meaningful. 

Often, there is nothing that can be done to salvage its original state.  Solution:  clear and rebuild.  It's the only answer.  It's the best answer.

And, the result never disappoints.  In fact, many times it turns into an opportunity for an upgrade and the new version is better.  Improved.  Everything is new inside now.  And, those that knew of its devastation are encouraged and happy, too, to see it rebuilt and looking even better than before.

I've seen this in life, too.  People getting burnt -- even devastated -- by a trial's inferno.  As a result, they become the walking dead.  On the outside they may continue to function, but inside they are nothing but a burnt down house. 

What hope is there for such devastation?

The answer: 

"REBUILD!", the Carpenter, who's been hired for the job, announces with confidence.

He's respected, experienced, and reliable.  He takes the job seriously and personally.  His work will not disappoint.  His plans to rebuild include upgrades, so the newer version is better than the old one. 

And, the heart that was once a pile of ashes, soon becomes an impressive structure for all to see.  Indeed, what seemed to be the end of the story became the opportunity for a new one to begin.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You Are What You Eat

I always know when I haven't been eating the right way.  Unfortunately, I have a very unforgiving body.  I'm not one of those people that can enjoy anything and everything at whatever hour and to whatever portions my heart desires.  I feel the effects, good or bad, of whatever goes into my mouth. 

When I'm giving myself what my body needs, it thanks me and we get along.  But, when times like the holidays come and I'm trying everyone's Christmas cookies and having an extra glass of egg nog, it seems to visit the complaint office more and I hear about it.  Its condition is based on what it is given.

My heart is the same way.

If I am feeding on good things, my heart smiles back at me.  It loves when I talk to people I trust about how it's doing.  It enjoys eating things like nutritious reading material.  It appreciates not being ignored and loves when I pull away from my busyness to listen to any requests and needs it might have. 

But, if I am feeding on garbage, ignoring its needs and taking no time to talk to anyone about how it's doing, it feels less healthy.  And, if I continue on that same pattern long enough, its condition can become weak and even vulnerable to sickness.  Its condition is based on what it is given.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Someone's Gotta Pay!

My puppy had an ear infection a couple months ago.  He has floppy ears, and my understanding was that  unless we kept his ears dry, he could be susceptible to yeast infections.  My husband was the last one to give him a bath. So, when I took him to the vet to get some ear medicine, I wanted to be sure to inform them that it was my husband who failed to treat his ears properly.  He's the reason, and it's HIS fault.

The girl behind the counter said, "Well, it's no one's fault.  This is common with dogs.  It happens."

Hum.  Not the answer I was expecting or even secretly looking for.  There was something in me that wanted her to join my team and pass the blame onto my husband. 

I wanted her support my cause and say something like, "I know girl.  I know how men can be.  I got a man myself ... "

But, she didn't.  She simply stopped the blame game at the start of it.

How tempting it is to want to blame others -- either because we are trying to dodge the blame ourselves, or maybe we're looking for a focal point for our anger or grief -- we want someone be responsible for our loss, or our hurt, or our tragedy, or the day's blunders.  Someone needs to go down for it! 

Sometimes, it is someone's fault.  Sometimes, it's our own fault. 

But, sometimes, as in the words of the vet assistant...  "It's no one's fault.... it happens."  I think those might be some of the hardest words to swallow in life.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Traffic Party

It's amazing how 1 inch of snow can paralyze our city.  Traffic was bumper to bumper on roads I normally can go 60mph.  I was 40 minutes late picking up my daughters from school so I already knew the ride home wasn't going to be our normal scoot.  I decided to stop at the grocery store with them and pick up some pre-made dinner, since there would be no time to cook. 

All the way home, we ate, laughed, sang along to the radio's Christmas tunes, and stayed on the alert for Christmas lights and decorations.  What could have been 60 minutes of grief, turned into a portable Christmas party for me and my children. 

Before we knew it, we were home -- happy, fed and unfazed by what should have been defined as a miserable experience.

Life can feel like being in traffic -- we just want to get through it and just get Home already!!  But, there is joy that can be experienced in our journey towards Home.  There's even Christmas parties that can be had in the worst of traffic jams.  And, then, before we know it, we will be Home -- happy and fed -- in spite of the traffic.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Christmas Gift

Stella wanted to give the perfect gift to the special man in her life.  It couldn't be just any gift.  It had to be exceptional.  Wonderful.  Like nothing else he had ever received from anyone.

She grabbed her crayon and drew the prettiest picture she could imagine.  Half way through she held it up to grade her progress.  Yuck.  Not good enough. 

Her big brown eyes wandered upward to the corner of the ceiling for a moment.  hummm...  lightbulb!  She'll dance!  That will be special.  It will certainly be unique.  She was sure no else had thought to offer such a creative gift!  

She began working on her choreography.  Twirl, lift, bow.  Twirl, lift, bow.  Twirl, lift... boom!  Her legs pretzeled under her.  This will not do either.  What is there left to offer??

"Stella!"  she could hear her mother's voice from down the steps.  "It's time to exchange our gifts!"

Her time had run out, and her hands were empty as she headed to the living room.  There was nothing to offer.

With tears in her eyes she approached her father.

"Daddy, I tried so hard to make you a nice gift.  But see," she said as she looked at her hands, "I have nothing to give you."  Her head sank into her chest.

Her father leaned in close. "Give me your hands, Stella."

He pulled them in toward his chest and with a whisper said, "Stella, you can't give me anything more special than these empty hands."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Simple Things

I teach private music lessons to children. 

Each child seems to enjoy their 29 minutes of instruction, but it's the 30th minute they have their eyes on.  At the end of the half hour, they have the opportunity to pick from my prize basket.  I try to keep it over-flowing with an assortment of treats, small toys, pencils, playdough, etc.  It varies so they do a thorough look-through each time.  And, when they find the perfect pick, they feel like it's Christmas.

What always tickles me about this is how easily they are amused and pleased.  I'm not handing them a college scholarship.  Free groceries for a year.  A winning lottery ticket.  None of those things would mean anything to them anyway.  They are satisfied.  Happy.  Content with a 25 cent piece of happiness.  They have simple expectations.  And, their joy is full.

I remember it well myself as a kid.  Pancakes that smiled at me with a chocolate chip mouth.  Sledding down the driveway 'til my feet were numb.  Penny candy.  Mom's tomato soup.  Life was simple with simple pleasures.  And, my joy was full.

This holiday season and into the New Year that is before me,  I want to do a good look-through in life's prize basket, and go back to noticing and fully enjoying the simple things that are mine in every moment.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time To Let Go

I was doing ok up to this point in my climb. 

The mountain was winning.  It was too steep to get any sort of footing.  Moving forward was impossible and going back was not an option.  I had only to balance myself on the thin ledge and hold onto whatever rocks my hands could find. 

Then, a Wind out of nowhere rushed against my back.  Wings brushed my shoulder.

I knew in an instant.  It was the Great One.  But, I never knew Him in this form before.

His Voice rippled over me like running water.

"The place where you are going..." 

His arms touched my back.

"...you can not get to on your own.  Let me take you."

"But, I'm scared."  I said in a shaky voice.

"You have the power to choose, dear child.  Choose Me.... It's time to let go."

Monday, December 13, 2010

What are YOU doing here?

I saw Him today.

Can't say I was looking for Him.

I was just sitting there watching my daughter at a birthday party.  She was running in circles inside the moonbounce.  Each time she looped around, she splashed a little of Him all over me. 

First a wave.

Then, she yelled, "Your love is forever in my heart!"

I felt it.  It wasn't just her saying it to me.  It was Him, too.

She bounced joyfully around again, her hand forming the sign for 'I Love You'.

I mirrored it back to her, and Him.

And, then the kisses began.  She blew as many as her arm could give me. 

How does He do that?  He catches me by surprise.  He's a Hopeless Romantic that looks for every opportunity to woo me. 

And, I saw Him today.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Please define...

What is freedom anyway?

It's a word that's thrown around alot for various reasons and purposes.  But, what exactly does it mean to be free as I go about doing life?

I had to look it up to see how it is defined.

Both noun definitions:
"the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints"
or
'exemption': "immunity from an obligation or duty"

I think what it's saying is that --

I can just be me. 

Is it just that simple?  Or, am I missing something? 

I don't have to say, do, feel, act, behave in anyway that is not authentic and true to who I am.  I don't have to feel bullied or act out of obligation or pressure or guilt.  I can form my own opinions.  I have the power to choose and make my own decisions.  And, I don't have to be something that I'm not. 

I AM FREE.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is coming, the goose, along with all of us, is getting pretty fat.  I

Must make more cookies and buy a Santa hat.

Everyone is looking to get the perfect gift,  but I'd just like some peace and quiet and eat my candy stick!

Round and round I circle, the mall's huge parking lot.  Makes me wish I shopped online.  Is all this driving worth a spot?

Rudolph, Frosty and Peanuts Christmas, classic shows bring

Yuletide bliss-ness

Counting down and Advent wonder, this year I am trying to remember that

Ho ho hos and Santa Clause is fun and neat and great, but there's nothing like the First Noel and true reason that we celebrate! So,

Raise your glasses one and all.  Fill them with egg nog and deck the hall!  Don't forget your polyannas and office parties, too.

I recommend a sleigh ride, and dinner at Grammy Sue's.

So, let's get going.  December's here!  Are you filled with holiday cheer?  Or, is this just another year? 

Take time to hug your loved ones and remember those you miss.

Make this time a special one and find someone to kiss! 

And, so I hope for you,

A season filled with joy and gifts. And, for those who'd want it so, I wish a 

Snowy Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Me & My Junk

I cleaned out my purse today.

I'm shocked that I made it out alive.  It took me 45 minutes!  And, it's not one of those big bulky purses that can fit bowling balls and small lamps.  It's a compartmental purse.  It's small and made up of many, many sections.  I bought it specifically for that reason so it would help keep me organized.  But, I found out the hard way that the more compartments, the easier things get hidden and the longer it takes to clean it out.  Just when I thought I was close to being finished, my hand felt a zipper and, ugh, yet another area that I didn't even know about that needed straightening. 

I found safety pins, loose change, a broken eyeliner, tissues and old McDonald's napkins, snapped pencils, two pairs of my children's socks and even a pair of my own!  (like WHAT??)  I found paper clips, old gum wrappers, 6 packs of Extra gum (I thought I ran out of gum?  Where was that hiding?) I found used up chapstick, sunscreen (hello, it's December, I'm not going sun tanning!).  And, that was just what I could pull out of the main pouches.  When I got to my coupon book, I had to tediously sort through dozens and dozens of coupons so I didn't throw any out that were not expired -- though most were.  All this, and I didn't even touch my over-packed wallet yet!  In the end, I filled an entire plastic shopping bag and handfuls of extra junk that didn't fit in the bag.  What a process!  But, I have to say, it is better than living with its prior condition.  It weighted me down everywhere I went. And, it stopped being functional.  There was no space to add anything new.  It became nothing but a burden with a strap.


I sigh as I tell you that I have Someone cleaning out my other purse right now, too.  My heart.  And, frankly, I'm getting frustrated.  It's taking too long!  I mean, honestly, just do what You need to do and let's move on already!   But, apparently I have compartments.  I have some hidden pockets with zippers.  Just when I think the process is nearing the finish line, I feel another pouch open!  Man, I didn't know that pouch was there.  And, where did all that junk come from?

I guess this project is a process.  It's going to be better, though, than living with its current condition.  I'll be less weighted down and more functional.  Thank God that at least I'm in Good Hands.



 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I see and hear this phrase alot during the holidays... Just Believe. 

There is something so child-like and wonderful about those two words.  I think in our hearts, we do want to just believe -- which might be why so many of us love movies like Polar Express.  We want to believe there is something bigger than us.  Powerful.  Good. 

Our hearts tell us, too.  We can hear its echos cry "There is more!"  Its longing makes us restless.  It makes us go searching.  Searching until it finds the One that can satisfy it. 

Much like the children's book, "Are You My Mother?".  The baby bird searched and searched until he found his parent.  Not just anyone would suffice, of course.  And, he didn't stop until his heart found what it was that it was truly looking for.

The Servant Girl

There was once a servant girl who lived in a spacious castle.  There, she happily served the king.  She remembered daily how kind he was to her the day he brought her in.  How generous he was to clothe her, feed her, and give her a bed to rest in.  She never forgot his kindness and never wanted to complain or even present to him any additional needs, for fear that she would be imposing.  He had done so much already for her.

As he came to her one day, he noticed her limping.  "Dear girl, I see you are limping as you serve.  Come, I have fresh water and ointment.  I will personally take care of you."

"Master, you have been more than generous to your servant.  I would not want to impose much more on you." the servant girl responded.

The King's eyes were full of compassion and deep love as he looked upon her beautiful face.

"Oh sweet one, my generosity is abounding.  In fact, I want to share all that is mine with you!  I came to you today to ask for your hand in marriage -- to be my bride and take your place as queen!"

The servant's heart leaped!  She had always secretly loved the King, but did not realize that His heart had always been full of an even greater love for her -- even from the first time he laid eyes on her. 

Without a thought, she accepted His proposal for marriage and his offer to make her well again. 

And, yes it is so...

...they lived eternally happy... forever and ever and ever...

Monday, December 6, 2010

LOL!

My husband loves to laugh.  And, when I say laugh, I mean laugh.  He is able to find humor in just about anything and in every situation.  He's not ashamed of it nor tries to tame it.  It just comes out - even at inappropriate times and places, making me wish I had a box of sand to bury my head in.  Since laughter is good medicine, he seriously should be in the hospital right now for a drug overdose!

There really is something, though, about this thing we call laughter.  It's mysterious to me. 

I've seen it make cameo appearances at funerals when lives are being remembered.  I watch how its arms lift heavy weights of grief.

I've seen it whimsically turn a heated argument first into a smile, then a chuckle, and then gradually into a roaring bent-over laughter.  The argument is chased away and joy takes its place.

I've seen it heal boo-boos as my husband tells a joke to my daughter while applying her band-aid.

I've seen it give people reason to live again.  I've seen it give life to a situation that was dead.  I've seen it strengthen marriages and help bring restoration between father and daughter. 

I've heard of its legends and how it literally healed a man with cancer, helped a woman lose weight, and gave people a longer life.

And, the best part:  It's a free drug.  Yep.  No need to check our health insurance policies to cover it.  It is a gift.  A gift that is ours for the using. 

I want to make sure I use up my full portion of it today.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let It Out

I apologize.  My subject today isn't exactly dinner conversation material.  But, an important subject, nonetheless. 

Vomiting. 

The word itself isn't even pleasant to the ears.  It just sounds vile, ugly and gross. 

I know vomiting has its place in life, but I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I hate it.  I'd rather go all day sipping on ginger ale and dealing with the agony of a sick stomach, than allow my body to vomit.

Sometimes, though, it's just what the doctor orders.  Whatever is in there is not agreeing with my system and it's better to just let it out than hold it in.  Pleasant? no.  But, necessary when it comes to healing and recovery.  And, often times I feel significantly better immediately after.

There have been times when my heart is sick, too.  So sick that I literally have images of wanting to 'vomit' out what is in there.  But, I hold it in.  I'd rather deal with the agony than give myself permission to let it out. 

THISISNOTHEALTHY!

Why do I do that to myself?  Am I afraid of what will happen?  Is it just my stubborn pride that doesn't want to let go?  Maybe I just don't want to call attention to myself.  Maybe I'm just convinced there is no safe place to let it out.

Maybe -- all of the above.

But, sometimes, it's just what the Doctor orders.  And, He's so pleased to come over for a house call.  He's not thrown off if things get messy.  He's seen it all, believe you me!  And, He's especially desiring to help since He's not only our Primary Physician, He also happens to be our Father.  He doesn't mind coming over multiple times.  He just wants to see His child well again.  And, if it means vomiting, then, by all means, let it out.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Marshmallow Under Fire

Yum.  I love a good roasted marshmallow. 

It always amazes me how the fire is able to take something that is already pretty tasty and make it exceptional.  Softer.  Sweeter.  More Pleasing.  When done right, I am one happy camper.

But, I'm not a happy camper when I'm the marshmallow!

When I'm placed over the coals of life's trials and tribulations, I just want to scream, "UNCLE!" and beg for someone to pull me out of such an uncomfortable place!

But, 

when the work is done, and I am lifted from the pit, I, amazingly, emerge a better marshmallow than when I entered.  I'm softer on the inside.  Sweeter.  More Pleasing.  Changed. 

And, I'm not the only one to benefit. 

Someone else will probably taste my sweetness one day

as a result of my firepit experience.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Longing

Hope (the general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled)

deferred (hold back to a later time) makes the heart sick... 


Waiting.  It's just a part of life.  We wait our turn in lines.  We wait for school buses. We wait for the waiter to bring our food.  We wait 9 months to see our unborn child.  We wait for the pie to be ready to come out of the oven.  We learn to wait.  We learn to be patient.

But, when the fulfillment of the longings of our heart are delayed, it can be harder to be patient.  This proverb tells us it can make us feel down-right sick.   I guess that might be where we get the terms 'home sick' and 'love sick'.  It hurts to wait for something we really long for.  And, it hurts even more when it feels like the longing will never be fulfilled.  We question if our waiting is in vain. 

I remember reading this a long time ago and never forgot it.  Isaiah says... "those who hope in Me will not be disappointed." 

What catches my attention here is:  What exactly are we focusing our hope on?  Are we just wishing on a star?  Or, is there a greater confidence behind our hope?

If we hope in the One who is able to fulfill every longing, though we may still need to wait, we can be sure that there is no disappointment when we leave the waiting room.

The proverb ends like this...
...but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.




Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tell Me About It!

How nice it is when you know someone can relate to your circumstances...

If you ever feel like you don't get enough privacy...  your fish completely understand.

If you ever feel like you don't have any friends... skunks know just what you mean.

If you ever feel like there's no one to talk to at night...  owls have been complaining about that for years.

If you ever feel like there must be more to life than what's in front of you... sea creatures at the bottom of the sea are in the same boat.

If you ever feel like you can't keep up...  turtles can sympathize.

If you ever feel like someone's out to get you...  deer feel that way every hunting season.

If you ever wonder why you can't seem to live in one place for long...  migrating birds feel your pain.

If you ever wish you could just hide...  ostriches are still trying to figure out how.

And, if you ever feel rejected... our friend the stink bug is quite familiar with that feeling too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When I Grow Up...

When I grow up, I want to be able to laugh about things adults don't find amusing anymore.

When I grow up, I want to be able to make 7 new best friends within the first 5 minutes of visiting a community playground.

When I grow up, I want to be quick to say 'sorry' so we can get back to playing!

When I grow up, I want to trust my friend to hold my favorite dolly.

When I grow up, I want to dream big and think nothing is impossible.

When I grow up, I want to share my seat on the bus with the nerdy kid.

When I grow up, I want to believe that there really is someone who cares about me beyond the clouds up there in the sky.

When I grow up,  I want to be fearless and hop on the handlebars of my friend's bike.

When I grow up, I want to be unafraid to try again.

When I grow up, I want to say "I love you" to the people I care about.

When I grow up...   I want to be a kid again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Maybe It's Not Me

I can be so affected by other's actions toward me.

Some days, my mood, outlook and self-esteem are dictated by one person's comment.  I can be thrown off by someone's glare at a restaurant.  I can get upset when another driver makes rude gestures at me.

I'm learning though, that many times, their actions or words have nothing to do with me at all.  It is just them having a bad day.  Bad month.  Bad decade even!  They are having a hard time in life and I just happen to be the one that catches it.  They aren't being sensitive with their word choices, attitude, or voice inflections simply because of their own issues.

I probably don't have to take everything so personally.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hidden

It's interesting how some things are not what they seem.

I can have a good looking bathroom, for example.  Clean, bleached walls.  Spotless floor.  Shiny streak-free mirrors.  But, beneath these walls is a decaying interior filled with mildew.  It fools me.  I think it's fine and it's really not.

There are things in us that might be hiding, too.  It might be things we are purposefully trying to hide.  Or, it might be things we aren't even aware of ourselves.  We might live in denial or ignorance about it for years, until one day, the Specialist comes and begins to remove the tiles of our hearts.  He knows there is unseen mildew that is eating away at our insides.  It's a shocking discovery for us, but not for Him.  He is not intimidated or surprised by the find.  He knew it was there all along and knows just what to do to make it clean and new.  He's just so glad that we gave Him a call and asked Him to come over to remodel the room.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Breathe

It feels so good to breathe.

I don't mean one of those short quick breaths.  I mean the ones that you pull in enough air to fill every crevice of your lungs.  No dark place inside escapes its refreshment.  It just feels good

I don't think I breathe enough.  I run and run and run.  I hold my breath for hours, days, months.  I think after my first child was born, I didn't breathe for a year and half.  Nerves and stress leave me gasping.  The demands of today and the needs of others pull me away from a good inhale/exhale combo.

But, when I do stop.  When I do allow myself to draw in a big, huge breath, it's like a baby's first inhale as it enters the world.  It's like coming up to the surface of the water after a long swim.  It's what I'd been wanting to do for a long time, but never allowed myself.  And, sometimes, frankly, it's overdue. 

I'm breathing today. 

And, it feels good.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Please Don't Stab Me

It all happened so fast.  My girls were sitting on the floor drawing nicely together.  Then, it seemed out of no where, my youngest threw her hand up with her pencil in it and stabbed her sister in the lower back.  As you can imagine...  Chaos.  Tears.  Daddy running for tweezers.  Out-patient surgery in the kitchen.  No Sunday picnic.

"Why in the world would you do that??" my husband grilled my youngest after it was over.

She was at a loss for an answer and said sorry a thousand times through her tears.  Her sister had done something to irritate her and she simply just reacted without thinking.

Let me insert here that my daughters are best friends.  They love each other.  They would stick up for each other in a crowd.  They are inseparable.  Also, the one in trouble in this scene is my beautiful little girl.  She has her moments, but she really is a sweet little thing and liked by many -- including her sister.

But, this is a good picture of how easy it is to hurt the ones we love, probably, because those are the ones most vulnerable to us. 

For example, I love my husband more than any man in the world. But, because we are so close and we have such a trust between us, I am actually more of a threat to him than anyone else.  He is trusting me with the 'pencil in my hand', hoping that if he is vulnerable with me, I won't turn on him and hurt him.  I know his weaknesses.  I am familiar with his 'buttons' and his insecurities.  It would be easy to fire words like daggers at him or allow my actions to crush his heart or stab him in the back.  And, the same applies with him toward me.   

Today, I am acutely aware that I, too, have a pencil in my hand.  I never want to hurt the ones I love.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Need A Hand?

I have a confession.  For some reason, I have a hard time receiving help. 

If I'm walking into a store with double doors and someone holds the left side of the door open for me, I instinctly open the right side anyway, instead of receiving their kind gesture and walking through the left side.

I could be weighted down with 7 bags of groceries. 

My neighbor asks, "Can I give you a hand with that?"

I'll smile and say, "Oh, I'm fine. I've got it," as I stumble up the steps and through my front door, practically dropping everything and hurting myself in the process!

My heart could be crying.  Just a sad day.  And, someone notices I'm not quite myself.  They inquire with genuine concern, and I quickly whip my smile in place like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.  I fake my way through the day, almost convincing myself that there is nothing wrong.

The biggest problem with all this, though, is that we are not designed to depend solely on ourselves.  We are made to fit into families, communities, nations.  We are not created to be loners.  We are supposed to need each other.  It reminds us that we can't do it all.  We need someone to hold the door for us sometimes.  We need that helping hand on days our hands are overloaded and our hearts are heavy.  It keeps us humble and it reminds us to keep looking up to the Hand that is always happy to help.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Can I Help You With That?

Why do we resist things that will help us?

It's the strangest thing to me.  (Though, I am guilty of it myself.) 

We get lost driving, but we don't want to ask for help.  We'd rather go on a '3 hour tour' than take 5 minutes and get the information we need to help keep us on course.

We get sick, but sometimes fight slowing down or even receiving help from medicine or doctors.

We walk around thirsty for hours, but don't reach for the proper drinks (or enough of them) to hydrate ourselves.  We can end up compensating by eating.  And, it can make us feel fatigued and moody. (Not to mention the many other side effects that come with dehydration.)

My daughter has a stuffy nose, but insists on wearing a summer shirt in November.  Her body can't get warm enough and so she continues to blow her nose.  She fights me when I make her wear a long-sleeve shirt -- as if my intentions are to harm her.  I am for her.  Not against her.

It is like Rain falling on dry, hard ground.  The Rain comes to bring nourishment.  But, the ground is so hard and so dry, at first, all it does is kick and scream against the Rain's Goodness.  It doesn't realize that the Rain is for it.  Not against it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Humble House

My husband and I love to look at houses as we are driving.  We're like little kids making Christmas lists as we window shop down the road. 

"Oh, look at that one!" I'll say, as I nudge my husband.  "I bet it has a beautiful kitchen in it."

"Oo, I'm likin' that stone porch."  my husband will say through his drool.  "And the shed would be big enough to put my sound studio in!"

But, the ones that impress us the most are the ones you barely see from the road.  I have to squint to see the details of it.  They are the ones up on the hillside.  Tucked behind trees and foliage are the ones I like to call the "Treasures Of The Woods".  They are grand.  Their structures are beautiful.  Their architecture, landscaping and colors are marvelous.  Sweat and tears have been poured into them.  They are the product of intense labor and devotion.

What strikes me the most about these amazing homes is that they are not the ones at major intersections of a highway.  They are confident, secure and satisfied with being established where they are -- with or without an audience.  Though they would have plenty to boast about, they have no appetite for being a show off.  They are stunning -- they don't deny it.  They just have no urge to broadcast it. 
They are indeed... humble.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

moon & Sun

The moon.

On clear nights, it's our lighthouse in the sky.

gorgeous.  beaming.  majestic.  a darkness-chaser. 

Yet, it is but a rock.  It can not boast. 
Its brilliance is not its own.
It is a mere reflection.



A reflection of the True Light Source. 
 The place where no shadow or morning frost will ever dwell. 
A place too glorious for man to approach in its human flesh. 
 It is the center of all. 
And, all look to it for its daily portion.  

The Sun is Good. 
It is Kind and Generous to the universe and
gladly shares its Goodness to the world
and to the moon.  
It does not show favoritism. 
It is Joyful!  It is pleased to give Itself away!  

It is Faithful to the moon.  
The moon receives and basks. 
 It is happy to be a reflection of the One that is truly 

Gorgeous    Beaming    Majestic  
and   
The Great Darkness-Chaser

Monday, November 22, 2010

Something GOOD

When my oldest daughter was five years old, she hit the back of her head on a rock after falling off her swing.  She was showing signs of having a concussion, so we took her right to the children's hospital.  They did X-rays and weren't comfortable with a certain section of what they saw, so they did an MRI.

They told me, "Well, her head is fine, but did you know her adenoids are huge?" 

Well, that explained a lot.  She had always had so many issues with breathing and nasal congestion.  We moved forward based on that information and had her adenoids removed.  Ahhh... much better for the poor little girl.
 
 ***
Because of our finances years ago, I was forced to find new ways to supplement our income.  I chose to try my hand at being a cosmetic consultant.  Problem with that was, at that point in time, I had become quite the shut-in.  Taking on this endeavor would mean I would need to be brave and actually talk to people in my neighborhood.  Out of necessity, I did what I needed to do and was surprised by the results.  I sold my little gift baskets of make-up and brought in a nice profit.  But, I also found out that people weren't as scary as I thought they'd be.  Many friendships started that day that are continuing even today.  It helped heal my fearful heart.
 
***
I definitely didn't want my daughter to get hurt.  But, she did.  Out of it, though, came something good.  And I definitely didn't want to be struggling so much in our finances.  But, surprisingly, it helped change me for the good.  These situations taught me that each trial and challenge gives us a gift.  I just have to be sure to look for it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Attic

Attics can be scary places. 

Cold.  Dimly lit.  Shadows of various shapes.  Sounds of critters who are possibly hiding in the Christmas box next you.  God knows what's in that box in the back corner.  It's been there for 25 years.  You've grown comfortable seeing it there. 

It seems easier to just burn the house down than to sort through the 180 square foot mess.  You've tried to clean it out in the past.  You start near the steps with the newer things that have been added.  It seems less complicated to know what to do with these few things.  But, as you move forward into the chaos, your stamina weakens and you're ready to call it quits sooner than you thought. 

It's just easier to leave it for another day.


Human hearts can become like cluttered attics.  It gets shoved with so much baggage over the years, it's painful to even open the door to look inside. 

"Who knows what will happen to me if I open that dusty old box!?" you tell yourself.  "I may not make it out alive!!"

You get scared and overwhelmed.  You retreat and close the door. 

It's easier to leave it for another day.


Then, the idea strikes you. 

"What if I take a Friend with me?" you say to yourself.  "He has His own business and He'll do it for Free!  He's stronger too, so He can lift the heavy boxes I'm too afraid to even look at."

He's happy to oblige.  After all, it's His specialty!
He backs His truck into your driveway.  You notice the side of His door. 

It reads:  "No Job Is Too Big"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Snapshot

Seeing a child wear mix-matched clothes. 

Watching a grumpy man at the register. 

A woman crying in her kitchen.                             

A grandmother picking flowers from her garden.


Snapshots.  Just one moment in time leaving the audience to make their own interpretation.  The pictures don't come with explanations.  It's not a video so we don't see the events before and after that moment.  We are left to fill in the blanks ourselves and make our own judgements.

I do that.  I do that with people I know.  I do that with strangers.

A child screaming at the table next to me.  I think to myself, "Why isn't that lady helping that child calm down?  Why doesn't she just take him outside? How annoying."  Little do I know that it's a child with disabilities that hasn't received their proper medication today because the aunt is babysitting and she forgot it.  She feels helpless and embarrassed, and she can't leave yet because she's waiting on the waitress to give her the bill.  I pass my judgement.  I fill in the blanks while knowing nothing. 

I say excuse me to the person in front of me in line at the market.  She completely ignores me and doesn't bother to move.  "Rude." I say to myself.  But, what I don't know is that she's hard of hearing.  I label her without knowing the facts.

I'm reminded that I need to give people the benefit of the doubt, assuming I am only seeing a snapshot and don't really know what's what.  And, even if I've seen 4 pages of the photo album, I still don't know what's on page 5.  I have no platform to judge and should instead show mercy.  I hope people do the same for me.

By the way, the snapshots I listed earlier?  I wonder if I would have come to the right conclusions?

The child had an accident in her pants and the change of clothes didn't match what she was wearing.

The grumpy man had just stubbed his toe. 
He wasn't grumpy.  He was hurt. 

The woman crying in her kitchen 
                      was cutting onions.                          

And, the grandmother picking flowers 
was grieving.  She planned to lay them
on her husband's tombstone.








Friday, November 19, 2010

The Boiling Point

I loooove hot tea. 

About 10 years ago, I fell in love with the tea/sofa/blanket combo.  Absolutely addicting.  I wouldn't try it unless you are prepared for a life-long commitment to it. Even 'til today, my husband and I have a ritual of putting the children to bed and immediately heading toward the teapot.  Sometimes, I do it without even thinking and I ask my husband to put the kettle and on and he says it already is.  In honor of this blog, I am having a cup as I type.

Here's the thing with me and my tea, though.  I like to catch it before it boils and whistles.  If I don't, I have to wait too long for it to cool down.  I've developed an ear for it so I can sense when it changes over from a mild simmer to the brink of boiling and whistling.  When I catch it, I can enjoy my tea much quicker and it's easier to hold the mug.

I'm still developing an ear for my temper, though.  I love my children, but sometimes I feel like Tom the cat about to blow his top because Jerry the mouse is driving him CRAZY! 

I could feel my patience simmering as I calmly instruct them....

Girls, no fighting.       Girls.      Giiiirrrrlllsss.       GIRLS!

                                                                         LISTEN!!!!!!
                                             PLEASE

                       YOU
     Will 


Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllll!  goes my whistle. 

The whole house can hear me blare like a firehouse alarm. 

I HATE when I get to that point, especially, because of how out of control I feel.  It's harder to stop the words from leaving my mouth.  It's harder to lower my voice.  And, it's certainly harder to make a good clear parenting decision for my children.  All will benefit if I catch myself before I whistle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Flower In The Dirt

It's dark.  The struggle is intense. 
The Hope of the end result keeps me moving forward. 
Why am I wet?  Ugh, the mud. 
But, the rain softens the ground and makes it a little easier now. 
Where's the Sun?  I heard that I'd be seeing it anytime now. 
Maybe there is no Sun.  Maybe I've been lied to.  Maybe it's all a lie. 
Maybe my struggle is in vain.  But, I've come so far in the journey. 
How can I turn back now?

 I'm closer to the surface than I realize. 
One more PUUUSH...  what?  I can feel it.  The
SUN







It's warm.   It's wonderful. The struggle
continues, but  I'm encouraged  to know
<  that I'm  on the right  track.  >
   I feel my leaves  open.
 feel  my petals
open.  
I
turn  
 my
he-
ad
to
the
Sun.
am
 beau-
tiful
>>
>.>
>>
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<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><<>

Uh, Excuse Me. There's A Fire In The Kitchen.

I don't remember all the events that lead up to it.  Was I cooking something?  Or, was my mom making dinner and walked away?  Who knows.  What I do remember were the flames that started to violently shoot out of the stove.  My parents were both upstairs and unaware of it all.  I wanted to take care of it myself, but please, be real Valerie.  You ain't no fireman.  My dilemma was, I didn't want to create panic in the house.  I was always a peace-maker -- never wanted to stir things up too much and upset people.  Keep the peace.  Problem was, in this case, there was no way around it.  I either sounded the alarm or our house would be on the 6 o'clock news! 

I went to the bottom of the steps.  "Uh, excuse me."  I said in a faint voice.  "Excuse me?"

No one heard me.  "Mom?  Excuse me." I said again politely.

"What is it, Valerie."

"I'm sorry... I...I don't mean to bother you...but there's a.... a fire in the kitchen."

Silence.

"WHAT??!!!" my mother screamed.

Their bedroom door flew open, and I never saw my mother move so fast in my life.  She shot down the steps with my step-dad tripping over himself behind her.  They both lassoed the fire under control in a matter of minutes. 

"Why didn't you run to get us, Valerie?" They questioned after the incident was over.

"Well.....I didn't want to upset you."


I still can be like that today -- not reacting at appropriate levels in a given situation.  Sometimes, I under-react, not giving enough of myself to attend to the matter at hand.  I'm like the polite fire alarm. Other times, I over-react to things that really don't need more than a glance toward it. 

It's a balance I am still trying to find.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Did I Just Say That??

About a year ago, I applied online with a company that is excellent in its field.  It would be a great career move for me to land a job with them.  I did my phone interview on Tuesday and they told me I would know more by the next day.  I don't remember, though, them telling me if they wanted me to call them or if I should wait on their call.  Wednesday came and by 3pm there was no word from them.  Being overly conscientious to make a good impression, I decided to just drop a follow up call to them.  The call went right to voice mail.  Usually, I like to run a small script through my head before I leave a message so I can be short and to the point with my words.  I didn't this time, so what came out was not rehearsed.  It went something like this: 

"Hi.  This is Valerie Bailey following up on my interview from yesterday.  I wasn't sure if you were waiting for my call, so I thought I'd give you a ring.  You can reach me at this number, but, ya know, don't bother calling me back anytime soon.  Thank you very much.  Bye-bye."  click.

I was frozen.

What did I just say? 

I rewound the tape in my head and played it back.  Did I just tell them to buzz off? 

oh, MY    GOSH!!

My thoughts accelerated and crescendoed in my mind... Do I call back?  Do I let it go?  Will I only sound more ridiculous if I try explaining myself over another voice message?  They don't know me.  They don't know that I can mix my words and thoughts and things come out wrong!  Can you get any more unprofessional, VALERIE?? 

I decided to go the safe route and email them.  I chuckled through the sentences as I tried to explain myself.  What I MEANT to say is, "I'm in no rush.  Call at your convenience."  What a difference in implication!

Thankfully, they found it to actually be amusing (phew!) and hired me in spite of seeing the foot in my mouth.

Next time, I will be more careful with how I say things.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Super Pickle!

Sea Cucumbers. 

I never heard of them until I looked over my 6 year old's shoulder to see a picture of it in her coloring book.

"What's that?" I asked.

"It's a Sea Cucumber, Mommy." she informed me.

My questioning continued.  "I never heard of such of thing.  Are they for real?" 

I went home and Googled and found that they are very much for real and live worldwide at the bottom of the sea and people even catch them and eat them!  I also read something amazing about these little vegetable-shaped creatures.  If I read it correctly, they apparently can LIQUEFY! 

Excuse me, say WHAT?

Yep, it seems they are the superhero-powered creatures of the sea.  Wikipedia tells us that the collagen that forms their body wall can be loosened and tightened at will.  So, if it wants to squeeze through a small gap, it can essentially liquefy its body and pour into the space.  And then, it can hook back all it's collagen fibers and make its body firm again to protect itself from the dark forces of evil around it! 

Well, you just go with your superhero self!

It was always my understanding that a living thing has a bodily structure. And, if that structure was completely compromised, the creature would be destroyed.  That's how I always believed, no one ever informed me differently, so therefore it was.  My mind didn't imagine or even think to imagine beyond that boundary of thought.  And, yet, here lies the sea cucumber, showing me what I thought to be impossible. 

I'd like to nickname this new superhero friend of mine.  I shall call him

Super Pickle

Gee, I wonder if there are any creatures
 that have lasers that come out of their eyes that I don't know about either?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Three-Legged Race

I remember, as a kid, looking forward to the annual neighborhood summer picnics. The whole community from around the lake seemed to be there; parents, children, grandparents.  It was like a family reunion, but everyone's families were there.  After you had your portion of burgers on the grill and soda on tap, the games began!  The field races were first, then the swim races in the lake.  I was no athlete but that didn't stop me from giving it try.  The top 3 winners got a ribbon with their name scribbled on it.  That was enough to motivate me!  Sign me up! 

The Potato Sack race was one of my favorites.  Just you and a bag.  The challenging game for me was always the Three-Legged Race.  Mostly, because I couldn't do it alone.  I had to partner with my older sister, who is naturally stronger and more agile than I.  As we tied the ropes around our legs, I knew my life was in her hands.  She was always a determined girl.  Strong and focused.  Truly, a get-it-done, no-one-can-stop-me kind of personality. Admirable traits.  Can't say I mirrored that as a kid.  I was the more cautious, gentler type. 

On your mark, get set, GO!  The race began and so did our eternal journey to the finish line.  My sister took off like a race horse, seeming to forget that I was attached to her body.  I tried to get in tempo with her pace, but her legs seemed to stretch farther and move faster than mine. 

"COME ON, VALERIE!" she yelled. 

"I'M TRYING!" I yelled back.

We just could not find our rhythm.  Other partners moved effortlessly passed us.  They looked experienced and skilled.  "How do they do that?" I thought, as I suddenly felt myself twist and hurl to the ground.

"Oh Gosh, Valerie! Stand up!  We're never gonna win." my sister snapped.  "Look people are already crossing the finish line!"

I wanted to win as much as she did.  But, I was weaker than her.  She had strong legs for the task.  It almost seemed better to just untie the rope on our legs and just let her run to the finish line herself.  But, of course, the rules wouldn't declare her a winner unless she had her partner with her.  Together we lose, together we win.  Either way, we were tied together.

I'm running a new race now with a partner that I tied the knot with almost 10 years ago.  Some days, it feels much like the race with my sister.  A tugging.  A pulling.  A wanting to work together, but not jiving with the other person's pace or rhythm.  Having the same goal, but being unable to get there.  Sometimes, it's me dragging him and demanding him to keep up.  Other days, it's him wondering if I even have the strength or endurance to make it to the finish line.  One thing I know for sure. 

Together we lose, together we win.  Either way, we are tied together.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The 7th Note

She was doing a beautiful job playing her song.  Every note was accurate and the timing was perfect - except when she got to measure 22.  She completely dismissed the left hand chord altogether. 

"Audrey, why didn't you play that chord?" I asked.

"I don't like it." she said. "It doesn't sound right and it makes me feel weird."

I looked closer.  It was a combination of the notes G-B-D-F. 

"Oh," I said, "that's a seventh chord.  It's supposed to sound dissonant.  It might feel weird for 2 beats, but look, it resolves at the next chord and then it will feel better."

She wasn't persuaded.  She grabbed her pencil and began scribbling out the F note (the 7th note) -- the part that caused the clashing sound in her ears.

I tried again.  "Audrey, that's part of what makes music beautiful and interesting-- the feeling of suspense and resolution; tension and release.  It's what adds flavor to what otherwise would seem ordinary.  It's part of the journey of the song."

I could hear my words bounce back at me off the wall.


How I hate the 7th note in life. 

Why can't everything just always work the way I want it to? And, why do some 7th notes seem to last so much longer than just 2 beats?  Where is the resolution??  Why can't everything in life be pleasantly harmonic? 

My husband loves the 7th note.
He doesn't mind the challenge.  To him, it becomes an adventure - something to mix life up bit.  Who wants to always be in the same old predictable progression and boring pattern anyway? 

Isn't the 7th note just part of the journey of the song?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unspoken

There once was a father who had one son.  His wife had died while giving birth to his son, so the father was forced to raise the child by himself.  The father loved the son deeply and worked very hard to provide for him and give him the best childhood he could.  He did everything a father would do, as well as everything a mother would do.  He worked hard all day in the factory and then worked late into the night caring for what was needed to maintain the home.  He lived a sacrificial life for the sake of his son.

As the boy grew, he remembered the kindness of his father and was very thankful.  But, there was something that always bothered him.  He never remembered his father ever saying "I Love You".  It remained a mystery and wound in the man's heart well into his adult years.

One day, on a trip to visiting his father, the son found the strength to finally ask his father this very painful question.

"Father, why have you never told me you loved me?"

The father's heart sank.  He could not believe a question like that would even be posed.  After a long pause, the father took the son's hand and said, "Son, I never stopped saying it."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding the Rainbow

I remember two specific times I saw a Rainbow. 

Both were when my family and I were traveling in our car.  One time, was when my husband and I were having a discussion about life and the future and our purpose here on planet earth.  I have to honest, it wasn't a feel-good conversation.  We were in a slump about things.  Questioning our worth, our contribution to society, the path we were on, etc.  At the height of our conversation, I could feel my heart sinking into a hole and my eyes begin to tear.  I couldn't deny the place of despair that I had gotten into, in general.  I was looking in the mirror at myself and didn't like what I saw. 

Then, I looked up. 

Cars were pulled to the side of the turnpike and I could see cameras flashing.  To my left was the biggest brightest fullest Rainbow I think the sky could ever give the earth.  We had to stop.  We had to take it in.  Our conversation ceased.  We stood in awe. 

The other time I saw a Rainbow was during the most uncomfortable car ride I had ever experienced in my life.  We were on a 5 hour ride, coming home from visiting relatives. My children were very young and on such a long car ride, I had to squeeze myself in the backseat of our small Ford Escort between both their car seats so I could care for them during the long ride.   It was on one of the hottest days of summer and we had no air conditioning in the car.  Suddenly it began to downpour.  We were forced to roll up our windows which, of course, caused our car to become a sauna on wheels.  Both girls started crying and wailing.  It really couldn't have gotten any worse, I thought...

 ...until the car accident.

Just a fender bender.  A result of hydro-planing.  Now we were at a stand still as my husband exchanged insurance information with the other driver.  My oldest child had to go to the bathroom, everyone was sweating and my legs started to fall asleep from being in such an awkward position for so long.  When would this trip end??  We started back down the road in search of a rest area.  The rain finally stopped. 

Then, we looked up. 

There it was, cascading down through the clouds of such a terrible storm.  A faint but beautiful Rainbow.  What an odd thing to see on such a terrible ride.  It seemed out of place at the moment.  I was in no sentimental state of mind.  But, there it was, regardless.  It's as if it waited for us to lift our eyes to see it smiling on us. 

I guess a Rainbow is like that.  It decides to show itself in moments we don't expect it in life. 

It's just waiting for us to

Look Up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Candy, Cake, and Consequences

Some days, there is just nothing else I want more than to indulge in a few snack-sized chocolates. 

Harmless really

except on those days that I also end up going to a birthday party and having salty chips and a piece of cake.  Then later, everyone in the house votes to get take-out for dinner. So, I skip my salad and also end up having soda instead of water to wash it down.  It's a series of little things that add up and show up... on the scale, on my complexion and in the form of moodiness. 

It's a picture to me how it is in life...little things that add up to bigger consequences. 

I heard of a lady once who drank one less sugar-filled soda a day for a year and lost 13 pounds!  I think of sea waves and how little by little they are able to erode big huge strong rocks on a mountain.  I think about my little prayers I pray as I wash dishes and the bigger consequences they must have that I am completely unaware of.  I think about my parenting and the little things I do or don't do that will affect my children down the road.  I think of my marriage, my finances, my health, my relationships and everything in between.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Me, The Splinter, and The Birds

I am enamored by birds.  I can't take my eyes off them when they fly...especially when they are all carpooling South.  Fascinating... the strength, the freedom, the care-free living, the sense of community, the gracefulness.  It's like they say to me, "Wanna come up here and join us?  It's where freedom lives and worry loses its foothold.  It's where Trust steps in, and Faith knows that the Wind is strong enough to hold you." 

But, I have a splinter. 

I didn't even realize it.  I just knew my hand was irritating me, but got so used to the irritation that I never really looked down to see what was bothering me.  It was on the side of my palm near my pinkie where I couldn't see it.  When I did realize it though, I was too busy to stop and take care of it.  So I lived with the irritation and the limitation.  I figured it would work it's way out on its own.  But, it didn't.  I couldn't ignore it anymore.  I had to stop and ask for help.  It took two minutes for my husband to gently remove it.  ahhhh... what freedom from something so small!  That's how worry can be.  (Or, really anything that bothers my heart can be.)  It keeps me from flying.  It's a constant nagging.  It steals my joy and peace.  I just need to slow down and let it be addressed.  Then, I'm able to take flight and

                                                                                                           invitation.

                                                                                         birds'
          
                                                                       the
                                                 accept

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Sofa

Hi.  It's me. 

I'm sitting on my Sofa.  It's my favorite place to be. 

The Sofa doesn't judge me.  It doesn't reject me if I have a hole in my sock. 

It's not offended if I fall asleep on it.

It's safe. 

It's comfortable.

And, I can be me.